This Small East Texas Cottage’s Style Is Called ‘Deconstructed Southern Modern’

This Small East Texas Cottage’s Style Is Called ‘Deconstructed Southern Modern’

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Name: Samuel Melton (but friends call me Sam) 
Location: Milam, Texas
Size: 1000 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, owned

Sam’s small cottage, which is nestled among the East Texas national forest, is a multi-generational house full of family history that starts at the front door: When you walk in you’re greeted with a picture of Belva and Arvid, his great-grandparents and the original owners of the house. The home was built for his great-grandparents in the 1960s, and Sam inherited it before it was torn down, hoping to save what was left. His renovation of the modest space brought it back to basics — like board walls and concrete floors — before working to build it up with his own decor personality. The result is a space that feels traveled and collected.

Also important to Sam is for the home to have the ability to evolve as his design does. As a seller of vintage furniture (his brick and mortar store is located at 205 Worth Street in Hemphill, Texas), he has filled his home with pieces that he finds special or that remind him of his story. This obviously includes vintage wares, as well as nods to his family’s history, but also to contemporary designs, too: You’ll see handmade tiles from local maker Erica Williams (of Thro Ceramics) covering the entry and leading visitors into his home. Though his cottage is a bit on the cozier side at 1000 square feet, Sam says you can cheat a small floor plan with thoughtful design planning, as well as create a comfortable home by designing with your own story in mind.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Deconstructed Southern modern 

Inspiration: My inspiration is taken from folk art and well-worn finds from my journeys, from an empty prairie house to books on makers and designers. 

Favorite Element: My favorite element in my home is the taken-back materials from wood slatted walls to the painted concrete floors. The home is taken to the builder grade and gussied up with paint. 

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge for my home is the small size and finding a way to make it feel wider. I also need it to be multi-use friendly. My budget was very small. I was careful to make smart choices such as choosing furniture that won’t age quickly and pieces that can evolve with me. 

Proudest DIY: My favorite DIY was the plumbing pipe curtains in the sunroom/dining space. They’re made from pipes and connectors.

Biggest Indulgence: I believe a space can always be upgraded with good furnishings. I believe in vintage and new items. I bought an antique German leather chair for $300 and upholstered the seat in a Navajo blanket; all together is cost $700. 

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The space is small enough that the fireplace is part of the kitchen and living space. And light fills the space with all the original windows. 

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home? Favorite pieces I bought would have to be the lights in the kitchen and sunroom. The lights are all handmade in Houston. They are from Long Made Co. The design is the lacquered brass in minimalist style. They make the space feel collected and upgraded. 

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: When in a small space remember to try to float your furniture if you can. It helps to make the space feel larger. Also, don’t be afraid of larger pieces of furniture. If all your pieces are lower in profile, it’ll make sense in your space. Small furniture can make the space a bit disjointed sometimes.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? When figuring out what you like simply go to your closet. Your clothes can tell you about the color and textures you like. You know your style because you simply wear it. Don’t be afraid to do your own thing. That’s what makes a home personal and collected. 

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

See Why a Room in This Ohio House Is Described as ‘Beetlejuice Goes to Florida’

See Why a Room in This Ohio House Is Described as ‘Beetlejuice Goes to Florida’

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Name: Brad Walsh
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Type of home: House
Size: 3300 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: The house was built in 1948. The original two-car garage has since been converted into extra living space, and a newer three-car garage was built as an extension. I am a musician and art collector; I bought this house last fall with the intention of making it my forever home. I am an art collector, a hobby painter as well, and I love color in interior design. My house is populated by a mixture of vintage and antique pieces as well as new. And I like to draw on the walls.

My sensibility and affinity for color as an artist definitely shows through my interior decor. Since I live in a particularly snowy part of Ohio, I like to propagate a perpetual spring indoors.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Mid-century maximalist artist’s playground

What is your favorite room and why? The green room, which was inspired by Tony Duquette’s Dawnridge. You’ll see images of it a bit down the page on my interior design website. I refer to the style of the room as “Beetlejuice goes to Florida.” It’s my favorite because it’s the only lounge space in the home that doesn’t have a television. Just a record player, and many places to get comfortable with friends and a drink.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I bought was a pink fluffy rug for the upstairs guest bathroom. When I moved in, the splendor of the original 1940s bathrooms had been muted by “updates” from the ’70s-’90s. There were yellowed linoleum floors, walls painted gloss white that hadn’t been cleaned in some time, but startlingly well-preserved tile and fixtures. So I restored the bathrooms to their mid-century glory and embraced the pink in the guest bathroom with the wall colors and the fuzzy rug.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Explode yourself all over it. If you make a mistake, you can fix it. If you regret something later, you can change it. But you won’t regret it.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

A Sunny Denver Apartment Charms With Stained Glass, Pink Tile, and 48 Plants

A Sunny Denver Apartment Charms With Stained Glass, Pink Tile, and 48 Plants

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Name: Colleen O’Toole (@collcoll18 on TikTok) and dog, Oscar O’Toole
Location: Capitol Hill — Denver, Colorado
Size: Around 700 square feet
Type of Home: Old estate turned into apartments
Years lived in: Just moved on Aug. 5 of this year, renting

I found my apartment on Zillow super late at night and immediately called the realtor and said I would put the deposit down sight unseen. I saw the gorgeous stained glass, clawfoot tub, and original hardwood floors and fell in love with the place! My apartment building used to be a single-family estate that was built in 1903. Then at one point, they converted it into six unique apartments. 

My neighborhood, Capital Hill, was once the neighborhood of Denver’s wealthiest residents but now is a mix of classic century-old mansions, contemporary townhomes, and apartment buildings. I live near the Molly Brown house and Moll was actually famous and achieved international recognition as the heroine of the 1912 Titanic disaster! She owned the home until her death in 1932.

I like to spend my time in my apartment cooking extravagant meals for myself,  constantly redecorating my place with antiques and thrift goods I find over the weekend, and making all sorts of art and drawings in my sunroom art studio/ office. I’m also a ridiculous plant mom and tend to my 48 plants often, one of which is a 13-foot fiddle leaf fig.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic, Mid-Century Modern, Art Deco, and Bohemian

Inspiration: Kelly Wearstler and Sig Bergamin

Favorite Element: The stained glass windows are everything! Especially the ones above my French doors to my sunroom/office. 

Biggest Challenge: Although I didn’t have as big of a budget as I would have liked, I was able to find a lot of vintage and antique goods at the Goodwills and Goodwill outlets around Denver. Instead of buying new everything I thrifted most of my art prints, glassware, decor, and books! 

Proudest DIY: Converting an old bookshelf into a bar 

Biggest Indulgence: My rugs, and absolutely  

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Made the sunroom my office 

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? All my plants! I truly don’t think a place looks complete without a ton of plants. Not only do they enhance the overall appearance of my space, but they boost my mood, reduce stress, and make me happy.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: 

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Commit to going extremely early to Goodwill outlets, come with gloves, and stay for at least four hours, and don’t give up! You will always find a gem or two and it’s a great place to find wall prints and decor.

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

This Gorgeous Norwegian Apartment Is Soothing Scandinavian Style Embodied

This Gorgeous Norwegian Apartment Is Soothing Scandinavian Style Embodied

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Name: Kathy Hao-Hsuan Chang and her Norwegian husband
Location: Oslo, Norway
Size: 1076 square feet
Type of Home: Apartment
Years lived in: 1.5 years, owned

I still remember the first time my husband and I took a walk to our neighborhood. We wanted to check out the area before coming to any more open houses — we had been to more than 30 up till then. It was a dark evening in Norwegian autumn and we walked through some busy roads, but the moment we turned onto this street, all the noise disappeared into peace and silence. Tall trees stood along the path as yellow street lights shined through the leaves. All of a sudden, a déjà vu feeling captured me. “This neighborhood brings back my childhood memories,” I told my husband. “Really? I was going to say exactly the same!” my husband replied.

Funny thing is, I grew up in Taipei, Taiwan, and my husband is from elsewhere in Norway. Yet, this specific street made us both feel like home — our own sweet childhood homes. We went to the open house and felt in love with the inside of this home, as well. The apartment has two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and the biggest living room and open kitchen I have ever seen for a 1076-square-foot apartment. It also has two balconies facing south and west respectively, surrounded by greeneries. We knew we wanted to live here, instantly.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Scandinavian style with a touch of Asian practicality

Inspiration: “Claire de Lune” by Debussy. A song so harmonious and soothing that it can be played as background music, but also so beautifully constructed with highlight moments that can be appreciated as a theme song.  

Favorite Element: I like every room but perhaps our main bedroom is my favorite room. We used to live in a 376-square-foot apartment. The bedroom was quite tiny, and the bed was tucked in between walls. One of us always had to climb over the other to get in or get out of the bed. Now, our bedroom has an en suite bathroom, plenty of space for bedside tables and side a table, and even an attached balcony that can be turned into a nice reading corner in the Norwegian summer! We kept the walls white, but brought in the colors from the public area — the blue, the gray, the beige, and a little pink. I always feel thankful and relaxed spending time in our bedroom. We also upgraded our bed linens to reasonably priced Egyptian cotton.

Biggest Challenge: We have a long balcony that is only 4.6 feet wide, and so the previous house owner didn’t use it at all. My husband and I decided to be creative about the space and built four homemade stools that bring flexibility to the space: Using four stools together, we get a big luxurious dining table for four people. Putting only two stools together, we get a nice tall bench for sitting high-up to enjoy a cup of tea while watching the sunset.

Proudest DIY: The entrance has several solutions that we are quite proud of: The cabinet is from an IKEA Pax system. The bench is tailored and homemade: we bought an extra shelf plate from the IKEA Pax system, trimming it to the size we need for the bench’s seating area, and installed the legs from IKEA’s Kyrre stool to make this bench. The key holder made of oak is minimalistic but functional, which is built by Buene Studio in Norway using the leftover wood from building other furniture. Last but not least, behind the painting is actually an electricity box — we found a painting to hide it.

Biggest Indulgence: The Kiyola KF-10 digital piano made in oak is quite an expensive item. However, it is totally worth it! Its minimalistic look generates much less visual noise as a upright piano would do. Any piano bigger than Kiyola would probably take away too much space and unnecessary attention from the living room. Fun fact: guests usually don’t realize that it is a piano until we tell them. They always think that it is a side table made in oak. I have always enjoyed playing piano but have never had a piano at home for a long time until now — this piano has become my good friend ever since the day it arrived.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Discovering new corners in our apartment is very important to me. I like to move things around and create new places to work or relax. Hence, we bought a very flexible modular sofa. All the puffs are square shape, and can be easily configured into any setting — a L-shape sofa, two three-seaters facing each other, or even a large sofa bed if we need one.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? The Marisino floor spotlight from Astro Lighting. I really like the beautiful palm tree leaf shadows that the light creates on the ceiling. With a time switch, the light turns itself on at 8p.m. and off at 1a.m. — it is just the right amount of brightness and atmosphere when we want to relax in the living room.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? I have a special trick to share: Sometimes we will wonder “what is missing here,” or “which furniture fits better.” My trick is to take a picture, picturing the photo as a painting, and then ask myself “what would I have painted here.” It always works because you are much more creative when you are a painter! This trick will bring out the artistic side of you.

This Actor’s NYC Apartment Is Dripping With Drama, Dark Colors & Other Delights

This Actor’s NYC Apartment Is Dripping With Drama, Dark Colors & Other Delights

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Name: Charles Busch
Location: West Village — New York City, New York
Type of Home: A duplex co-op apartment
Size: 1000 square feet
Years lived in: 26 years, owned

Charles Busch wears many hats (and wigs). He’s a playwright, actor, director, novelist, drag legend, and cabaret entertainer, and for 26 years he’s turned this West Village apartment into a home absolutely dripping with drama, details, and delightful decor elements. Dark colors, rich wallpaper patterns, and interesting art adorn many of the home’s walls, including a unique, statement arch in his bedroom, a result of when Charles and his architect worked on the space around 19 years ago.

“My duplex is a combining of two studio apartments,” Charles explains. “I bought the upstairs apartment seven years after I bought the downstairs. My architect/designer, August Ventura, had an enormous challenge, finding the best position for the staircase, creating new closets, and giving each floor its own individual layout, because both studios had identical floor plans. He solved the latter problem by creating a dramatic arch dividing two halves of the bedroom.”

Along with the unique architectural elements of his home, Charles’ apartment also has an obvious theatricality to it, no doubt a result of being in theater and film for so many years. But the influence goes both ways: His apartment recently served as inspiration for the upcoming movie “The Sixth Reel,” which he wrote while stuck inside during the pandemic and Skyping with his creative partner, director Carl Andress. The film, which also stars Margaret Cho and Tim Daly, centers around a cadre of film buffs passionate about Hollywood artifacts, and it’s not hard to imagine how living among so many beautiful ones might have inspired the plot.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Golden Age Hollywood/19th century Parisian bordello. Or perhaps how a 19th  century Parisian bordello would be designed in a 1940s Hollywood Technicolor movie.

Inspiration: The 19th century French actress Sarah Bernhardt’s Paris home; the 1958 Vincente Minnelli film “Gigi”; Diana Vreeland’s red living room designed by Billy Baldwin; the 1940s interior design work of Dorothy Draper; the work of 1920s set designer Natasha Rambova; and Disneyland’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride.

Favorite Element: When I was fourteen, I went to live with my Aunt Lil in her Manhattan apartment. She had wonderful taste in decor; a mixture of mid-century modern and French and Chinese influences. When I landed in my current apartment in the Village, I took her design aesthetic and multiplied it by ten. I see her influences everywhere, from the round table by the window, draped in layers of fabric and covered with photos of family and friends, to her living room baroque wall sconces that I painted pearlized white and hung in my bedroom. Having these elaborate sconces give my bedroom something of the feeling of the Jean Cocteau film of “Beauty and the Beast.” 

Most of all, I’m pleased that my apartment can be viewed as a complete expression of my personality. After a study of each room, you would know just about everything important about me; my romanticism, my pragmatic nature, my artistic influences, the people I love, and my creative life. My latest project is a film, “The Sixth Reel,” that I co-wrote and directed with my longtime friend and colleague Carl Andress. The protagonist, who I also play in the film, is a collector of classic film memorabilia. Many of the scenes in the movie took place in his West Village apartment.  Although “Jimmy” is quite different than me, we share the same interests and the production designer, Dara Wishingrad, raided my home for books, bibelots, and even extra rolls of wallpaper to create Jimmy’s cluttered eccentric apartment.

Biggest Challenge: My duplex is a combining of two studio apartments. I bought the upstairs apartment seven years after I bought the downstairs. My architect/designer August Ventura, had an enormous challenge, finding the best position for the staircase, creating new closets, and giving each floor its own individual layout, because both studios had identical floor plans. He solved the latter problem by creating a dramatic arch dividing two halves of the bedroom. The arch that reveals my bed has the feel of a theatrical proscenium. I could probably fit two rows of seats in front of it. One of these days I’ll give a benefit performance of “Sorry Wrong Number,” which is a solo play that takes place in a woman’s Manhattan boudoir.  

Proudest DIY: Every few years, when I’m experiencing writer’s block and unable to get my real work done, I find myself turning to crafts. I loved making this bust of the Byzantine Empress Theodora. I used a Styrofoam wig head as a base. Taking as a base a plaster life mask that a friend made of me in the seventies, I created a papier mache mask, painted the face on it, then covered the face with a silk stocking and painted the red lips over that. I was able to use a headdress that the designer B T Whitehill made for me to wear when I played Theodora with my theater company in the East Village in the eighties. It needed more, more, more, so I bought dozens of antique jeweled brooches on eBay and covered every bit of the head except for the face. It’s an art project I’m very proud of.

Biggest Indulgence: I spent a large part of my adolescence at the Lincoln Center Library of Performing Arts. For hours after school, I’d pour over the scrapbooks of the legendary female stars of the theater. The one who particularly fascinated me was the French actress Sarah Bernhardt. An actress, playwright, director, sculptor, painter, she was the first international celebrity. Her life and career have without a doubt been a profound inspiration for me. As a teenager, I had in my bedroom a $4.95 reproduction of the artist Alphonse Mucha’s Art Nouveau poster of Bernhardt in the play “Gismonda.” For decades, I dreamed of owning the original. Finally, around seventeen years ago, it came up for auction. I had never been to an auction, so I took my friend Kathie. I figured I could afford the estimated price. Well, the first bid went over the estimate. After each competitive bid, Kath and I went into a frenzied conference. With the price more than double the estimate, at long last it was mine. The elderly British auctioneer murmured into the microphone. “I’m very glad you got this.”

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I removed the kitchen on the first-floor apartment and turned the space into a home office. A small Manhattan kitchen was transformed into a perfectly satisfactory office.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I try to use Seventh Generation natural cleaning products. Not so much for me, but for my friend Kathie, who is my 24/7 computer tech support and also wig stylist for all of my plays for the past forty years. Kathie is violently allergic to all chemicals, so for her I use Seventh Generation cleaning products.  

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Don’t be afraid of making bold design choices for small rooms. It’s impossible to make a tiny room look big, so embrace it and go wild with saturated color and pattern upon pattern.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Your home is a visual autobiography. Express your unique personality with every choice.

“This resource list is unfortunately not applicable since I did the renovation of my apartment nearly twenty years ago and I wasn’t involved in the minutia of the painting and construction. I gave my architect/designer August Ventura imagery and concepts and he turned it into a fabulous reality.”

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

Follow Adrienne